Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A determined prayer warrior

I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year. This next year could be a most important one. There are tremendous needs. And tremendous opportunities.

Do you believe in making New Year resolutions? Have you thought, I wonder, of becoming involved in urgent, desperate prayer for your families? I ask because everywhere I look I see the children of serious, loving Christian parents, carefully brought up in church and Sunday school, beginning to drift away from the Christian faith.

I was reminded of the subject by the true story of a man we will call George. He and his wife had two daughters. He decided to spend an hour every day praying for their spiritual welfare. He continued to pray an hour a day for his descendants until one day he announced he had a promise from God that four generations of his family would all be Christians.

His two daughters - the second generation - both married ministers. Between the two of them, they had one boy and five girls. The boy became a minister and the five girls all married ministers. When it came to the fourth generation, two boys - cousins - were the first to go to college. One announced quite early on that he believed God was calling him to the ministry.

The other decided - a little apprehensively, in view of the family tradition - that he didn't want to be a minister. What's more, he wasn't going to be a minister. He was going to become a psychologist. He wrote a book on psychology, which became a best seller. His name: James Dobson.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A birth like no other

A company of pollsters discovered a number of children preparing for Christmas who had no idea whose birthday they were supposed to be celebrating. How sad.

This birth was like no other. This baby was unique. He was every bit as human as each one of us, but He was also divine. "The Word," says John in his Gospel, "became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

God knew none of us could make it to heaven on our own, so He sent Someone to make it possible for us.

You may feel almost worn out, with shopping, cleaning, cooking and wrapping presents. But do make sure that you have the eternal life He, and He alone, came to bring.

The Son of God became Son of man so that sons of men might become sons of God.

Happy Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Queen and the need for Christianity

The Queen's speech this year will focus on her Christian faith and her belief in the important role of Christianity in modern British life, according to the International Business Times.  It comes at the end of a year marred by terrorist attacks by ISIS extremists.

The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said the Queen's speech would be poignant, as she reflects on the attacks on British holiday makers in Tunisia and the massacre in Paris.

"Clearly extremism is a backdrop to anything that any public figures say at this time. If people in this country gave greater heed to what the Queen says about the importance of Christianity in our personal as well as our national life," he said, "then we would be in a better place to confront it.

"The Queen will also be aware that Christians and others have faced unprecedented persecution over the last year in parts of the Middle East, and could even face extinction.

"There is pressure for the next Coronation to be multi-faith or no faith. My understanding is that it will actually be a Christian event, but obviously the Queen would want to reinforce that."

A source told the Mail on Sunday: "Over the years we've seen a greater emphasis on the Queen's faith and we're certain to see it in this year's Christmas broadcast. There's a fundamental optimism which, to an extent, is driven by her faith in contrast to the overall gloom. She is driven by a deep and spirited faith."

The content of the Queen's annual prerecorded speech, which last year attracted 7.8 million viewers in the UK alone, is such a closely guarded secret that Palace officials refer to it by the code-name "QXB," for Queen's Christmas broadcast.

The Queen's speech airs on BBC1 and ITV at 3pm on Christmas Day. It is also broadcast across the Commonwealth.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Balm in Gilead

Some months before I found Christ - many years ago now -  I heard Paul Robeson sing an old negro spiritual.

"There is a balm in Gilead
  To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
  To heal the sin-sick soul."

The phrase "sin-sick soul" spoke to my heart. There is only One who can provide healing here. A psychiatrist might shed some light on the need. A psychotherapist might give some idea of its effects. But only Jesus can dispense a cure.

It's like a nasty sports injury. It's painful, and you long for a balm to ease away the pain. Unlike a sports injury, it's not a physical pain. "Come unto Me," says Jesus, "all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

"Come," he says. Don't think it over. Don't philosophise about it. Do it.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Street preacher gets a reprieve

Mike Overd preaches the gospel regularly in the streets of Taunton, motivated, he says, by his love for Jesus Christ and a deep concern for people who don't know His great love.

One day a man who identified himself as a homosexual objected to something that was said about homosexuality and insisted on debating it. Mr Overd was charged under the Public Order Act, which deals with threatening words or behaviour. At Bristol Crown Court he was fined, ordered to pay costs and ordered to pay compensation.

The Christian Legal Centre (part of Christian Concern) took a dim view of a remark by the judge that Mr Overd should not have referred to Lev 20:13 in explaining what the Bible said but could have used Lev 18:22, and decided to back Mr Overd in an appeal.

At Taunton Crown Court Circuit Judge David Ticehurst upheld the appeal and overturned the conviction.

King Solomon High School in Redbridge recently held an "LGBT Week." The pupils were given rainbow badges which they were told they must wear or they would be given detention. 

When one of the sixth form girls went home with the news, her mother, Anna Erickson-hull, wrote a protest on her Facebook page. She quoted 1 Cor 6:9, 10: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Apparently someone complained to Facebook, and Facebook took down her Facebook page.

The Office for National Statistics says that one per cent of the population in Britain is homosexual. Actually, the figure is 1.6 per cent, but that includes bisexuals. That one per cent is holding this nation to ransom, and the nation is helping it do so.

The sooner this nation comes back to its senses the better.  

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The day Tass became a Christian

Taysir Abu Saada - Tass to his friends - was a Muslim. He was born in Gaza and grew up in Saudi Arabia. He hated Jews. He joined the PLO, trained as a Fatah sniper, and was Yasser Arafat's personal driver.

Seeking a better life, he moved to the United States and got a job as a waiter in a restaurant. He dreamed of poisoning Jewish customers. One customer, an American named Charlie Sharpe, was the first to say "Thank you" for taking away his empty plate. Tass decided to look after him, and the two became friends.

One day Charlie spoke about a "spiritual connection" he had, which brought him peace and wonderful blessings. For weeks Tass wondered what it might be. He decided to ask.

"Tass," said Charlie, "to have the peace I have you need to love a Jew."

"I hate these people. You know how I feel about them," said Tass.

"What do you know about Jesus Christ?" asked Charlie.

"I know Jesus - he's a prophet. As Muslims we believe in him." 

"He's more than that. He's the Son of God. He is God," said Charlie.

"No way!" said Tass, and started to leave. Charlie told him to hold on, grabbed a Bible and placed it between them.

"The minute he put the Bible between the two of us it was like something powerful just took me and threw me away from it," says Tass.

"Why did you jump?" asked Charlie.

"I can't touch that."

"Why? It's just a piece of paper."

"No, it's the word of God and it's God and the name of God is in it."

"Do you believe this is the word of God?"


 Charlie began to read about Jesus from John 1. "In the beginning was the 
 Word. . ."

"When he started reading," says Tass, "I started shaking and I lost control and the next I know I'm on my knees on the floor with my hands lifted up, inviting Christ to be my Saviour. I felt like a mountain lifted off my shoulder and a joy and peace came into my heart I never experienced before." 

 "Do you know what happened?"


"You've become a Christian," said Charlie.

The next day Tass had an unusual burden to pray, and found himself praying for the Jewish people. "Oh God, bless your people Israel. Gather them to the Promised Land." He shut his mouth with his hand to stop himself.

He told his wife and children. They were converted too. They founded two ministries, Hope for Ishmael and Seeds of Hope. They opened a kindergarten in Jericho, where the children learn to be kind to each other and treat each other with love and respect. Enrolment is doubling, and there's a waiting list of over 200. 

They're planning a cultural centre and a youth centre. Young people can play games and watch soccer and basketball - an alternative to hanging about the streets, where they can be seduced by groups like Hamas.

It's amazing how the Lord Jesus continues to work in these days.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Where Christian lives are cheap

The militant Islamist group al Shabaab has publicly declared that it wants Somalia free of Christians. According to the nation's constitution, Islam is the state religion. Open Doors says those who attack Christians do so with impunity. Suspected Christians are frequently killed on the spot.

Said one Christian: "It appears that I live in a hell on earth. I wish I could just stand inside a  church and cry out in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Still they manage to maintain a witness. One has regular contact with camel herders. He gave them a radio tuned to a Christian radio station. The camel herders are illiterate, but they listen to the radio every night.

In Nigeria, thousands of Christians have been killed or abducted by Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group. Hundreds of churches have been destroyed.

In Sudan, blasphemy laws are frequently used tor prosecuting Christians. A significant number have been imprisoned. President Bashir's government has demolished churches, killed Christians in bombings and allowed others to kill Christians with impunity.

In Eritrea, Christians are considered a threat to the state. They have been tortured, beaten and imprisoned in horrific conditions.

Syrian Patriarch Ignace Joseph lll Younan said Eastern patriarchs had warned the West from the beginning that the situation in Syria was much more complex than in Egypt, Tunisia or Libya, and conflict would create only chaos and civil war.

"They responded: No, the Assad regime will fall in a few months..As I predicted, that hasn't happened, and five years later, innocent people, especially Christians, have no support. The West has betrayed us."

Says Generals International: "Many of us live mostly isolated from the atrocities. We're so used to hearing about unrest and turmoil in places like the Middle East and Africa that we hardly flinch at news of bombings or shootings 'over there.' The scope of this horror is hard to wrap our heads around; meanwhile, it is a daily reality faced by thousands. 

"We are calling on you, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Take a step back from politically charged rhetoric. . . Jesus Himself told us to pray 'Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven'. . . 

"We are here on earth. And terrorism is not the will of heaven. So we will pray, and we will love because the kingdom of darkness is no match for those two things when they come together. . .

"Pray for those who are choosing to destroy others and sometimes themselves. If they only knew the great love which the Father has for them, they might change their minds and choose God's plan of salvation, instead of destruction. 'For this is the way God loves the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.'

"Ask the Lord to uncover every planned attack. . . Ask God to stop those who persist right in their tracks. Proclaim that their hiding places will be uncovered."

Friday, November 27, 2015

How to pray for ISIS

Those belonging to ISIS have sworn by Allah to rid the world of other religious groups, even at the price of their own lives, and to restore the glory of Islam as they understand it. They use rape, beheadings, shootings, crucifixions and sexual slavery as weapons against their enemies. They are prepared to fight for several generations to see their aims fulfilled.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who says Britain is in the top tier of ISIS's overseas targets, is seeking approval in Parliament for British air strikes in Syria as well as in Iraq.

Decisions are not only in the hands of politicians. If you are a Christian, there is something you can do. If we are Christians, there is something we must do. Pray. Prayer can make a difference.

Click here for an article on how to pray for ISIS, and here for a first-rate 30-day prayer programme.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christianity 'Europe's only hope'

Ten days since the so-called Islamic State loosed its terror on Paris. People are still holding their own private inquests, with all their whys and wherefores.

Since 9/11, Western political leaders have been hiding their heads in the sand. They seem unable to understand Islamist jihadi ideology. Warnings from ISIS that it would flood Europe with Muslim immigrants, with ISIS operatives among them, seem to have been ignored.

After 9/11, Western leaders said "This has nothing to do with Islam." Strange, we thought, since everyone responsible for it was Muslim and did what they did precisely because they were Muslims. Then came the London bombings of 7/7. Western leaders came up with a reason that was a model of political correctness. "This has nothing to do with Islam," they said. We thought differently. After the recent Paris attacks, they said "This has nothing to do with Islam." They are wrong. This has everything to do with the violent tradition of Islam, considered every bit as valid as others consider the peaceful tradition.

Mark Durie, a Christian who is an accepted expert on Islam, says it is irresponsible and dangerous to claim that a tenacious enemy is insane and incomprehensible. To refuse to  acknowledge the ideology of ISIS and to deny its relevance is tantamount to a death wish.

"To combat this ideology," he says, "it is necessary for Europe to prove ISIS wrong on all counts. It must show strength, not weakness. It must have confidence in its cultural and spiritual identity. It must be willing to fight for its survival.

"It must show that it believes in itself enough to fight for its future. It must defend its borders. It must act like someone who intends to win in an intrinsically long war against an implacable foe."

A wave of secular humanism has swept across Europe: "I don't need God. I can manage quite well by myself." For the man in the street, when the Paris attacks came, there was surprise, for sure. There was shock, without doubt. But what seemed quite obvious was a spirit of fear: where will they strike next?  Liberal humanism - call it what you will - is a religion without a heart.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, who resigned his post as an Anglican bishop in 2009 to become director of an organisation preparing Christians for ministry in areas where the church is being persecuted because of religious extremism and ideological secularism, suggests that only Christianity  can save Europe.

It is quite astounding, he says, that some, instead of seeing Christianity as part of the answer, take the opportunity to smear all religion by association. "The truth of the matter is that Europe needs to recover its grand narrative by which to live, by which to determine what is true, good and beneficial for its people. The nostrums of Marxism and Fascism have brought frightful suffering for its people. Now another totalitarian ideology threatens.

"A truly plural space can only be guaranteed by intrinsically Christian ideas of the dignity of the human person, respect for conscience, equality of persons and freedom not only to believe but to manifest our belief in the public space, without discrimination against or violence to those who do not share them. 

"Instant self-gratification and endless entertainment will no more contribute to contemporary European survival than they did to ancient Roman. What is needed is an ethic of service, selflessness and sacrifice for the sake of the common good. Many will recognise this as the teaching of the Galilean Master, not of any paganism, ancient or modern, nor of any ideology, secular or religious.
 . . 
"The extremists have decided what their values are and from whence they come. Have we anything to counter with? The institutions, culture, achievements and values of Europe can most readily be understood with reference to the Judaeo-Christian tradition. . . It is time to reappropriate it."

He's right.

Will there be enough active Christianity to meet the need?

One thing is certain. Western Christians need to waken up from their slumbers and become the people God called them to be.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Eternal life begins here

Why would a God of love send anybody to hell?

God doesn't send anybody to hell. They go because they refuse to accept God's offer of forgiveness in Christ. Many people live all their lives by their own standards. When they hear of sin and heaven and hell, they mock. All sorts of people have different ideas, they say. Who knows? Besides, nobody ever came back to tell us. (Are they sure?) 

God sent His Son to be a sacrifice for sin. Jesus was murdered. He was clearly, incontrovertibly dead. Then He came back to life. Hundreds saw Him. He ate food with His disciples. He told them "A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

He told one "Reach your finger here, and look at my hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing." Jesus didn't just talk about eternal life. He demonstrated it.

The Christian who has experienced forgiveness of sins knows he is forgiven and is certain that he has a home in heaven. He has God's promise. He has a hope - not in the sense of "I hope so," but a sure hope, a certain hope. He has tasted a little bit of heaven down here. He knows that because Christ lives, he will live also.

If you don't have the assurance of sins forgiven, if you don't know you have a home in heaven, let me ask you a question in all sincerity.

Have you examined the evidence of Christ's resurrection?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Coming back from the brink

John Smeaton is director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. On the blog he writes for the society, he occasionally quotes some remarkable figures.

Like this:

It is estimated that more human beings have been killed by abortion worldwide in the past 40 years than people have been killed in all the wars in recorded human history.


I have written once before on this blog about American doctor Matthew Harrison.

I told the story of Ashley, the 20-year-old daughter of Christian parents, who was in love with her boyfriend. Unexpectedly, she fell pregnant. Overcome by the circumstances, she went to an abortion clinic.There they gave her a first-stage abortion pill and watched her while she took it. (The abortion pill is a two-stage procedure. The first pill starves the baby of progesterone, which is essential for continuing development. A second pill, given  some 72 hours later, starts labour so the woman ejects a dead baby.)

Immediately, Ashley realised that what she had done was contrary to everything she believed in. She asked the abortionist what she should do if she changed her mind. She was told if she didn't take the second pill the baby would still die. If it didn't, it would be born deformed or seriously defective.

Ashley confessed to her mother what she had done. Her mother took her to a pro-life doctor - Dr Harrison - who felt he should help. It was about 36 hours since she took the pill. If he could flood Ashley's system with progesterone, there was a chance it could out-compete the abortion pill. "I told Ashley and her mother my plan, and told her the risks. This had never been done. I doubted it would work. She didn't care about the risks to her. Ashley was ready to do anything to save the baby's life."

Ashley had progesterone injections twice a week. At full term, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

The treatment has now been perfected : 137 babies are said to have been born without complications, and a further 76 women are still pregnant. In the US, an abortion pill reversal kit is now available under medical supervision.

At abortion clinics in the UK, more than half the abortions are done using the abortion pill. Is it possible that an abortion pill reversal kit could be made available here?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Still no peace for Israel

There have now been something like 1,000 terrorist incidents in Israel since the beginning of October, with stabbings, shootings and vehicles used to run down Jews. There have been widespread complaints about incitement by Palestinian leaders and on social media.

This week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Washington for his first meeting with President Obama for more than a year. It was, he said, one of the best meetings he has had with President Obama.

Obama is said to have given up on the prospect of peace, even the prospect of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, before he leaves the White House in 2017. The two agreed to appoint teams to determine the size of an increase in military aid to Israel starting in 2018.

Meanwhile there were a number of stabbings in Jerusalem - one of a security guard by an attacker as young as 11 - and a 19-year-old member of the Border Police, who suffered serious head injuries when he was deliberately run down by a Palestinian driver, became the 12th Israeli to die as a result of terrorist attacks since the beginning of October.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

A very important question

Jesus was with His disciples in the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, a beautiful area below Mount Hermon. "Who do men say that I am?" He asked."Some John the Baptist," they said. "Some Elijah. Others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." "But who do you say that I am?" Peter spoke up. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

"Who do you say that I am?" That's a most important question. Muslims tell me that in the Bible Jesus never claimed to be God. Yet He was crucified for that very thing. An important part of the gospel is that God Himself paid the price for my forgiveness.

 How about John 8:58, 59:

Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." Then they took up stones to throw at him.

Or John 10:30 - 33:

"I and my Father are one." Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from my Father. For which of those works do you stone me?"  The Jews answered him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy, and because you, being a man, make yourself God."

Or Luke 5:20, 21:

When he saw their faith, he said to him, "Man, your sins are forgiven." And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

Or Mark 14:61 - 64:

Again the high priest asked him, saying to him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?" And Jesus said, "I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven."  Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, "What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?" 

In this multicultural age, it's important Jesus is not just included among a collection of others. He's unique. He's the Saviour of the world. "For unto us a child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Is this the end of free speech?

Extremism disruption orders (also known as EDOs), which the UK Government is to include in a counter terrorism bill in the next month or two, are a cause for real concern.

Their premier target, of course, is Islamic terrorists. But they don't stop at attempting to deal with people planning to commit murder and wanton destruction.

The orders will allow courts to take action against people considered "on the balance of probabilities" to be "preaching, inciting, or justifying hatred on the grounds of disability, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and/or transgender identity." Innocent people could be caught up. Like people who disagree with same-sex marriage, or Christian street preachers. The mere risk of "causing distress" would be enough to trigger the new powers.

One MP said EDOs would deal with racists, religious fundamentalists and homophobes. They would "in some circumstances" be applied to a teacher teaching that homosexual marriage is wrong. George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is reported to have said in a letter to a constituent that EDOs would go "beyond terrorism" and "eliminate extremism in all its forms."

In a typical Christian response, Voice for Justice UK says people who fall foul of these orders would include mild-mannered Christians who oppose same-sex marriage or gender reassignments, or who say that homosexuals unhappy with their sexuality have a right to therapy.

"How can Bible-believing Christians possibly be equated with Islamic hate-preachers inciting violent jihad?" they ask. "Christianity is a religion of love and of obedience to God - it is not part of a jihadist culture that will brook no alternative to its own value system and converts at the point of a gun.

"Mr Cameron is entirely wrong to manipulate the proposed legislation in order to ensure compliance with secular and LGBT ideology. It is not just wrong, but unnecessary. Christians are not the enemy."

This week the Christian Institute, which is well aware of the dangers, became unlikely partners with the National Secular Society and Peter Tatchell in launching Defend Free Speech - -  at the Houses of Parliament. They will challenge the Government to identify legitimate targets that are not already covered by existing law - like the Public Order Act 1986, the Terrorism Act of 2000, the Terrorism Act of 2006, the Serious Crime Act of 2007 and the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act of 2014.

The Government has already done its best to make everyone agree with what it thinks are "British values."

The Government must not tell the church what to believe. And if it attempts to prevent someone expressing an opinion in public, we are on our way to a totalitarian state.

Monday, October 26, 2015

What do YOU think about Jesus?

Researchers working for the Church of England, the Evangelical Alliance and HOPE have been questioning representative groups of English adults to find out what English people know and believe about Jesus, what they think about Christians, and whether when Christians talk about Jesus they are drawing people closer to Him or pushing them farther away.

Of the people questioned, 57% called themselves Christians, 12% atheist and 9% agnostic; 9% called themselves practising Christians. Some 39% believed the Bible was God's word.

Some 60% believed Jesus was a real person; 21% believed He was God in human form; 30% believed He was a prophet or spiritual leader, but not God. Some 43% believed He rose from the dead.

Some 67% knew someone they perceived to be a practising Christian; 60% enjoyed the company of a Christian they knew. Some 58% had had a conversation about Jesus. After the conversation, 19% wanted to know more; 59% did not.

Some 72% of practising Christians felt confident to talk with non-Christians about Jesus.

Some recommendations:

●  An enormous challenge; great opportunities. Prayer is essential.

●  Christians are liked. Recognise it, challenging the prevailing negative media image of Christians.

●  Encourage Christians to prioritise talk about Jesus to friends and family. One in five of them is open to Him.

●  Discuss how we can establish as top priority making Jesus known to those who don't know Him.

●  Support Christian parents in encouraging their children to follow Jesus.

You can see full details at